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Texas to study possible expansion of Darrell K. Royal Stadium

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Darrell K. Royal Stadium currently seats 100,119. (USATSI)
Darrell K. Royal Stadium currently seats 100,119. (USATSI)
Texas and Texas A&M's football rivalry has ended on the field -- for the time being -- but that doesn't mean the Longhorns and Aggies can't find other ways of competing.

Take for instance, the issue of the largest capacity college football stadium in the Lone Star State. That honor has belonged to the Horns' Darrell K. Royal Stadium for years, but the current blockbuster Kyle Field renovation project, started in December, will boost the Aggies' facility to around 2,500 more seats than the Longhorns'.

So maybe it's coincidence and maybe it's not that Texas announced in a statement Tuesday that it has "begun a feasibility study on the completion of the south end of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium" -- the end currently occupied only by a small bleacheresque stand of seats, football offices and weight rooms, and the legendary "Godzillatron." (Which, by the by, the Kyle Field project is also looking to usurp.)

"We continue to plan for the future of UT Athletics and work to provide a superior gameday experience for all our fans and stakeholders," Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said inthe statement. "The south end project is conceptual at this point. Any further planning will depend on a variety of factors to be studied over the next several months."

Patterson added that the study will consider aspects like financing, fan amenities and a possible parking shortage after the construction of the new, adjacent Dell Medical School. The decision to proceed with the project would ultimately lie with Texas regents and administrators.

Replacing the current south end zone with a multi-level full stand of seating would very likely expand Darrell K. Royal's capacity back beyond the project capacity of Kyle Field. But is that the point? On the one hand, the timing -- in the immediate wake of the bulldozers moving in over in College Station -- seems a little too perfect. On the other, as Texas fan blog Burn Orange Nation argues, once the north end zone was filled in 2009, was it really such a stretch to think the south end would get the same treatment in the relatively near future?

So whether you believe Texas decided it was time to start looking seriously at expansion in a Texas A&M-less vacuum or not likely depends entirely on which team you support -- and given the debates that are likely to rage on the subject in the near future, it's another bit of evidence that the century-old rivalry between the Horns and Aggies isn't fading away anytime soon regardless of whether the teams meet on the field.

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